Beginners guide to swimming in open water


Moke lakeI absolutely love open water swimming. I liken it to running on a treadmill v running outdoors. Nothing beats it. But, you need to be properly prepared. In the video bow, I swam from this shore to the bank in the distance and back. By the time it took me, I estimated the distance to be 800m, doesn’t look it does it?

Choose hat and googles carefully

I always swim with a hat on and when I went to Moke Lake I changed my hat to yellow (in the pool I wear a black one) because it needs to be a colour that’s easy to spot. I also always swim with tinted goggles. I used to have two pairs but honestly, you can see just fine in all weathers with tinted ones. In open water they are particularly important on sunny days (or even just bright days) because they help to minimise the glare on the water, which at swimmers level, can be blinding.

Water temperatures of 14 degrees or below require a swimmers wet suit. I was lucky, the lake was really warm so I didn’t need one.

Swimming in a straight line

This is a lot more tricky in open water. As you can see in the video, with my head under water I cannot actually see anything. Sometimes I consider this a blessing, as I knew there were lots of fish in this lake! What it also means is that to orientate myself I need to look at something on the bank. Pick something large and easy to see, a big tree or large rocky outcrop, for example. I was sighting off a yellow van parked in the grass while swimming back across the lake. Unfortunately for me, the van drove off before I made it to the other side! Oops!

I usually look up every 6 strokes. Choose a rhythm and stick to it or you will veer off in odd directions and end up swimming much further!

Getting out

Keep swimming until you can touch the ground beneath you. When I’m almost back to the shore I look under water one more time to check the ground is there. In this lake, the rocky banks slope off steeply, so it’s vital to make sure what you think you’re going to stand up on is actually really there!

Most of all though, enjoy the scenery, it’s rare you get scenery while swimming so make the most of it!

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